I like to think of myself as a veteran small business owner. Ever since my twenties, I’ve felt the drive to create my own work. It’s something that comes from within me, to create a business from nothing. I’m sure that many of the small business owners and entrepreneurs reading this blog can relate!
I’ve been through ups and downs and have learned many lessons along the way. One of the most important lessons was the necessity of needing help. For the first ten years of my business, I did everything myself without any help. Not even a virtual assistant. Keep in mind that I run a VIRTUAL ASSISTANT business! That’s like a chef refusing to eat her own cooking!
Eventually, I had to accept that I needed help. There were just too many things on my plate, the small things that took up all of my time. I needed to get those tasks out of my hair so I could focus on the important stuff. So guess what I did? I hired a virtual assistant. Surprise, surprise! It wasn’t until I finally decided to hire a virtual assistant that things really started to take off for Jennie Lyon Virtual Assistant Services.
The Power of Letting Go
I remember fretting about hiring a virtual assistant for years. I was terrified to let someone else help with my content creation, post to my social media, or publish my digital newsletter. Why? I’m going to admit it… I was a control freak.
I didn’t trust anyone else to do the little things around the office that consumed so much of my time, like research, admin, and other business stuff. If this sounds a little hypocritical (As I LITERALLY do other people’s research, admin, and content creation for a living), let me explain. Even though I was a virtual assistant myself, that didn’t mean I believed in other virtual assistants. Sure, I could be trusted, but could others? Looking back, I must have been completely insane.
When I finally hired someone about five years ago, it was a game changer. I doubled my income that year because I was finally able to focus on the big picture items that allowed me to grow my business. I realized that putting my trust in a virtual assistant made my business stronger (Although I still believe you need to be very careful when selecting one!)
The Struggles of a Small Business Owner
Like I said, before I hired a virtual assistant, I was just overwhelmed. I was struggling financially (we mostly survived on my husband’s income). The stress was starting to get to me and burnout was a real possibility. I seriously considered closing up shop and getting a “real” job (I’m sure that all of the entrepreneurs out there shivered involuntarily at that thought.) I just wasn’t making enough money to help support my family. Medical bills for family health issues were putting us deep into debt, and I had to do something to make ends meet. I took on part-time work as an office manager for a while and started to look upon my own business as a side project. Seven years later and remembering this time still makes me want to cry.
I’m not telling you this because I want sympathy (Everything is fine now!) I’m telling you because I deeply understand the plight of small business owners. So many of us create our dream business, 100% sure that it will be a huge success, only to find ourselves running into wall after wall of reality. Courageous small business owners all over the country are struggling with unpaid bills, debt, stress, anxiety, and depression. It’s part of the “glamour” of being an entrepreneur.
How I Pulled Myself Out
Here’s the thing. I knew that I had the skills, passion, drive, and energy to make my business a success. The problem was that I was being pulled in too many directions at once. I needed help, but I didn’t have the money to hire even a part-time employee. So, I hit upon a “brilliant” idea. Why not hire a virtual assistant? What a novel idea! Boy, I bet someone could make a lot of money if they started up a business like that! Ha!
I swallowed my pride, pushed down my one-woman band mindset, and hired a virtual assistant. Not for everything, not at first. Remember, I was still working on a very tight budget.
I started them out small, just handling my social media needs. Within about a week, I suddenly noticed something… I didn’t have a pit in my stomach coming into work anymore. I was still stressed and worried about my business’ future, but something had shifted. Do you want to know what it was?
I no longer felt like a low-level employee in my own business. I felt like the boss again!
This tiny shift in mindset paid huge dividends. I suddenly had more time and the energy to seek out new clients. I could spend time rebuilding and modernizing my website and sprucing up my marketing. As I started to make more and more money, I truly understood for the first time why my customers hired me as a virtual assistant. With a virtual assistant taking care of all the small things, you can take care of all of the large ones.
There were a ton more benefits than just my financial success. First off, I had the time to start working on my health. All of that stress can lead to bad health habits that I was determined to break. I started doing yoga again, massively improving my physical and mental health. Daily walks to the gym with my husband also helped drive my stress levels down and give me time to collect my thoughts after a hard day at work.
Another huge thing was that I could be a member of my family again. I had the time to sit and eat supper, take the dogs on a walk, and watch TV and play games with them. Not to mention family vacations (or even a trip the beach less than a mile away!) The difference this made to my life was indescribable. If you have a family, I bet you know exactly what I mean.
So, what’s the moral of the story? I think there are a few of them.
One, being a control freak can only take you so far. I was determined to handle everything at my small business myself, which almost led me to burnout and financial ruin. It wasn’t until I let go of some of that control that things started to turn around for me and my business.
Two, the importance of the big picture. All of the small daily tasks we do, like social media management, emails, project management, etc., are necessary parts of our business, but they can eat up vast amounts of our time. To grow your business, you need to hand these responsibilities off to someone you can trust. Then, you will have the bandwidth to start growing your business.
And three, time off is essential. Small business owners and entrepreneurs are notorious candidates for burnout. They invest so much of their time and energy into their businesses that there isn’t any left for them or their family. By hiring a virtual assistant, I got my life back. And that was priceless.
If you have been nodding along while reading this, then you may be in a similar situation to the one I was in seven years ago. I know that things may seem hopeless right now, but you can pull out of it. Contact me today and we can discuss what I can do as a virtual assistant to help you feel like the boss you are!